Sometimes, the only way to avoid jail time is to accept a period of probation and agree to abide by certain conditions of that probation. During the period of probation, sentencing on the underlying offense is stayed, and if there is no violation of probation, sentencing never occurs. Those conditions can be specific to the needs of the particular case, but will usually include restitution (in cases of theft or property damage) as well as the following additional conditions which apply in every probation case:
- Obey all court orders and all local, state and federal laws, including any order of child support
- Report to your probation officer at such times and places as he or she requires, and make no false statements to your probation officer
- Notify your probation officer within 48 hours if you change residence or employment
- Pay any ordered Probation Supervision Fees monthly or, if permitted by the court, perform community service monthly
- For felons, submit a DNA sample; for some sex offenders, register with the Sex Offender Registry
- Sign all releases necessary for supervision and verification of compliance
- Allow your probation officer to visit you in your home with or without notice
- Report to your probation officer within 48 hours of release from incarceration
- Do not leave Massachusetts unless you get the express permission of your probation officer and sign a waiver of rendition
Costs and Burdens of Probation
Probation can be expensive and burdensome. The probation service fee (usually $65/month) adds up very quickly, and the conditions can sometimes make finding work to pay that fee difficult. Slight technical violations can be handled without involving the court, but whether those violations result in a probation violation depends mainly on the decision of the probation officer.
Avoiding a Violation
If you are on probation and you feel like the conditions are overly burdensome, or if you think you might not be able to comply with those conditions 100%, call you should call me. You may think that your probation officer is on your side, and they might be, but if and when they decide to ask the court to find a violation, it's their word against yours, and they are the one taking notes.